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Mar 8, 2022

How to Give Students Control Over Their Learning Journey

Screencastify Squad

The Flipped Class Movement is a modern teaching approach where students have a more active role in their learning journey. This method has become recognized worldwide as more effective and flexible than the traditional approach. And it’s an method that is becoming more predominant across the globe.

In this episode of the EdTech Heroes podcast, host Nef Dukes welcomes pioneer of the Flipped Class Movement, Jon Bergmann. The discussion touches on the benefits of flipping classrooms, what mastery learning is all about, and why students should have more control over their learning.


👋 Name: Jon Bergmann

📚 What he does: Teacher and an author.

🏫 Company: Jon Bergmann official website

✍️ Noteworthy: Jon is a pioneer of the Flipped Class Movement and has coordinated flipped learning programs around the globe. He’s also the author of 10 books, including the bestselling "Flip Your Classroom."

📱 Where to find Jon: Twitter | LinkedIn

Key insights 

Give your students meaningful choices. Let your students make important choices in the classroom, whether it's regarding their education materials or their learning pace. Having options will boost their engagement and help them feel empowered.

Jon talks about his teaching experience, "The sort of extreme differentiation I’ve done is that I actually write different tests. So when they get to the end of the level or the unit, then the students can take the easy, the medium, or the hard test. I call it the basic understanding, the clear understanding, and the deep understanding. It's basically a rubric that I'm using, and then the students choose their own adventure, and they can choose which one they want to."

What is mastery learning? Mastery learning is about giving students more control over their learning pace. Thanks to the emergence of technology, mastery learning has become even more effective in education. Jon talks about how video learning, in particular, has helped develop the concept of mastery learning.

"What's happened is because they are at different places in the content, I have multiplied myself by making these cheesy videos that students are going to watch or have watched and are watching in preparation to get the basic part of the information. Then we use class time to do mastery learning where I am checking, looking over their shoulder, and helping on the things they are struggling with."

Mastery learning is the answer to major post-pandemic learning challenges. We don't know what the post-pandemic world is going to look like. But one thing's for sure. Most students will have some gaps in learning. Jon thinks mastery learning is the solution to this problem. He explains, "Every teacher is facing the same issue, let's be honest, whether it's in my particular case, which is these two transfer students in a semester.

But what's happening across the world is that as students return to school, they're coming in with many deficiencies and gaps in their learning, and they're all coming in with very different experiences. So, if we do mastery learning, I really think it's the answer to what's going on with our students as they come back to school and to deal with the varied levels of comprehension (or lack thereof) that they're coming in with in whatever content and curriculum that we're teaching."

Related episode

For more discussion on self-paced learning, listen to our episode with Kareem Farah!

Episode Highlights 

Build relationships with your student 🙋

"I'm pushing kids to try to take the more advanced route. I feel like I've got a good relationship with the students, and they know that I care. So honestly, that's what I think is going to cause kids to want to do more for you. And then, sometimes they see that it's more for them — when it's all said and done — but sometimes, they don't see that."

Add value to your lessons by making your own videos 🎞

"It's okay to start using somebody else's videos from YouTube or whatever, but I would really encourage you to make your own. Again, it goes back to that relationship. Kids will connect more with you. Honestly, there's a certain way that I teach a particular topic and to find somebody who teaches it in the same way or thinks about it the same way as me, online — it's going to be very difficult to find.

I could spend hours and hours searching for the perfect YouTube video, or I can just fire up a tool like Screencastify, and record an eight-minute video — because it's something I know a lot about — and then be done. It's silly to not just make your own."

Technology in post-pandemic learning 💻

"Honestly, I think that if we look at what's happened in the last two years — it’s been almost more than two years now — but a lot of teachers have gotten over that because they had no choice but to figure out how to record themselves or to do a Zoom meeting.

If there's been any silver lining to the pandemic, educationally, [it’s that] a lot of technological barriers to flipped and mastery learning have all been vaporized because teachers now know how to use those technological tools because they were forced to. They had no choice because their kids were in other places when they were teaching."

Organization is the key 📑

"It's really important that you get super organized if you're going to do mastery learning. You have to sit and look at your content and say, 'What is lesson one? And here is an objective — a specific objective — I want them to learn X.' Okay. Then I have to say, 'How can they demonstrate that? Or what are the questions or skills that need to  be demonstrated, whatever that lesson topic is?' And then you've got to create these things."

Highly quotable

[10:00] "What makes good teaching good? It's always been this way, regardless of whether you flip or whether you use mastery — how can you build relationships with kids? And so I spend a lot of time trying to just get to know my kids."

[22:21] "Do the hard stuff when you're present with your students. In the flipped learning world, we divide the world into what we call independent space and group space. Independent [space] is what they can do alone, and you want to have easier cognitive tasks for them to do there. And then, class is where you want to do the hard stuff."

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